You can browse almost any company website or newsletter or scroll through an infinite amount of social media accounts and see titled leaders professing their fondness for their employees. When speaking of employees, often discussed are their dedication to quality, service, and safety, their cultural commitment, their work ethic, and even their volunteer and philanthropic spirit. Not surprisingly, most leaders outwardly embrace these attributes, plastering them across all forms of company media for the false public appearance of living by them and instilling them in their team. From there, some may stay in their safe space, merely visualizing desired characteristics they want their team to possess rather than stepping out of their leadership bubble to fully embody and validate them. OK, you got me! That was a little self-reflection from a couple decades ago. But, it may also describe several of my leadership peers from other organizations to some level. So, why do I really love my team?
Yes, our company culture is built around specific values and characteristics our team members must exhibit during the team interview process and maintain during their tenure. And yes, those values including honesty, hard work, common sense, fairness, direct communication, and individual accountability are paramount to our success as a team. However, one of the biggest reasons I love my team is because they are willing to communicate that initial “No.” You see, in our culture, our team does not see conflict in a negative connotation as that openness and direct communication play as big of roles as all of the other characteristics. Our team having a comfort level to say “No” and support their “No,” while asking their teammates to support their proposal is crucial to our continual improvement. We expect professional courtesy, but understand the best ideas come from the debate and accountability. They are open-minded, good listeners, but make no mistake; they are a trust and verify type of people. You see, acknowledging it took a bit of time in gaining some professional maturity, and although I am the boss by title, I realize and embrace that there is a good chance I will embark upon a conversation where my teammate may know more than me about their primary area of responsibility throughout my daily interactions with them. Additionally, they make it easy to love them because once the decision is made, no matter their initial position; they support their teammates to reach the designated goal. So, why do I love my team? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is because they are willing to tell me “No” when necessary.